Hooked on a feeling

Ten days ago, I finally got the chance to have crochet lesson number two and discovered that my brain had retained a surprising amount of stitching knowledge – a length of chain stitch was quickly accomplished and it was straight on to some single stitching. By church time an hour later I had a semi-decent piece of work and the generous gift of wool and a hook for a week in order to practice. 

Where I’d got to at the end of lesson two and the progress by the time I got home – note how much better the stitching is at the top than at the bottom. 

Practice is what I did – almost straight away. It was as though my fingers couldn’t bear to be without something to do. Nervously, I reached for the wool as the sermon began and hooked away throughout it. [I was paying attention and ensured that I looked up from time to time and laughed at the jokes.] Out it came again after dinner and in the pub and on the tube home, I was totally erm…hooked.

The next day it continued. While in the pub the night before I’d started my first ‘project’ – a headband – and this proved to be addictive. Out it came on my morning commute; over lunch at my desk [an excellent method of indicating “do not disturb me, I am not currently working and am taking my lunch break”]; and on my way home. It was at some point that afternoon or evening that I had something of a crochet epiphany: I worked out that the flat bit on the hook was for measuring your stitches (i.e. that a 4.0mm hook creates stitches of 4.0mm). With this discovery, I started my project over and found myself truly crocheting with confidence.

Maybe it was because I was slightly on edge last week, but I could not get enough time spent lost in hooking. The weather became miraculously beautiful and for two lunch times I sat in a sunny church yard stitching with a passion, setting an alarm so that I made it back to work in time. The passion was cemented when I made a trip to John Lewis’ haberdashery department to buy my own hook and some more wool. [Crafty tip: if you don’t need a specific type of wool for a project, check out their bargain bucket – I found some gorgeous multi-coloured balls.]

Over the last week I’ve discovered a few things about crochet (and its sister, knitting)…

  • It’s immensely therapeutic and can quickly become an addiction. (Or is this just because I have something of an addictive personality?) 
  • Doing it on public transport creates something of a sensation – people will stare at you, but it’s not because they thing you’re odd, it’s because they’re entranced by the movement of your fingers. 
  • It does strange things to people – a colleague confessed that she now takes a slightly longer commute purely so that she has more chance of a seat and a longer continuous chunk of time in which to get on with her knitting. (The same colleague apparently also likes to hang out in Soho’s bars knitting hats and making conversation with drunk people – whatever floats your boat, I guess.) 
  • The oddest people have, at some point in their past, stitched with wool. 
  • Carrying my wool in the (bright pink) bag I was given at the Olympia Horse of the Year show adds somewhat to the air of eccentricity this hobby gives me.

We’re now looking into organising a stitch & bitch group at work (I’d always been very good at the bitching element, but ‘bitching sessions’ are generally frowned upon) and I have – as of Monday morning – completed my first project. Voila: 

Well, it had to be seen in context, didn’t it?

The finishing off was a little amateur as I improvised, not actually knowing how to do it, but I’m pleased with the results. Now I can’t wait to learn a few more stitches so I can make something even more useful – like a tea-cosy for my mother. I know for a fact that she can’t wait to get some piece of crocheted tat from her darling daughter…

Now do excuse me, I’m currently in the quaint town (ok, city – there’s a cathedral) of Ely and yesterday I discovered a super-cheap wool stall, so I’m off to make some purchases. 

Spending Sunday evening in stitches

For some time now, I’ve been rather in awe of a church friend’s crochet skills. During sermons I’d watch her hooking away (in a similar nature to the girl I once used to observe knitting) and was stunned at how quickly she could produce something rather decent – like a tea-cosy:

Battenburg Tea Cosy (Photo: J. North)

Chatting in the pub after church, while the crochet expert continued her work, she proposed organising classes on Sundays so that wannabe hookers [I’m thinking that probably isn’t the correct term for a practitioner of crochet, but I rather like it] could have a go. This Sunday a message popped up on Facebook indicating that wool & hooks would be available in the pub pre-church, so I decided to head over and have a go.
I’m not particularly wool-proficient. I can’t knit – mainly because my Mum’s left-handed so couldn’t pass the skill on to her daughters. However, I ought to have learned crochet in my youth as my Dad was, during his hippy phase, quite the hooker [I’m now seeing why this might be a problematic term to use…] and even crocheted a few blankets for me when I was small. 
[Tangent: My Dad has become a devoted reader of my blog, meaning that I now have fewer stories to tell during our phone calls. I’d like to think he could possibly weigh-in on this post and share with the world how he came to learn crochet, because for the life of me I can’t remember how it happened – if I’ve ever known it. I’m guessing it’s probably a skill picked up during his long convalescence after breaking his leg falling off a cliff…
Anyway, so yesterday evening saw me with a ball of red wool in my lap, a hook in my right hand and an arrangement of wool in my left hand. I learnt a basic chain stitch to begin with and then moved on to more complicated things. Chain stitch wasn’t so tricky – in fact, after 15 minutes I was teaching Mr Jackson how to do it after he stumbled upon the crochet gathering – but I made my chain too tight, which made the next stage rather more complicated. But after an hour of learning I was fairly addicted and loath to put away the supplies in order to get to church in time. 
The best thing about the crochet lesson was the way in which people were drawn into the activity – friends and strangers alike. In fact at one point the pub’s landlord appeared and seemed bemused that a space that had hosted rowdy rugby fans just a couple of hours earlier now contained a book club and what looked like a young Women’s Institute (albeit including two men). 
My attempt at chain stitch and Mr Jackson looking particularly special with his hook & pink wool (to match his shirt). 
Quite honestly, I’m almost on the verge of buying my own hook and some wool so I can get some serious crochet time in while on holiday next week. It’s been ages since I learnt a new craft (not since needle felting a year ago) and I like things that keep my hands busy while I watch TV. Plus, I’d quite like to make one of these: 
Crocheted hairband, as modelled by the crochet teacher. (Photo: J. North)

PS: Having stumbled upon ‘hooker’ as a term for a person engaged in the activity of crochet, it seems the crochet club may become known as ‘The Hookers’. Joyous – now that’s a club to include on one’s CV…